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Lekan Salami Sports Complex: Coming Alive Again For Sports And People

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WHEN, hopefully, the legendary Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) returns to the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) next football season in the Nigerian domestic premier league, the club already has a well-prepared home waiting for them at the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ademasingba, Ibadan. Fans of the Shooting Stars too have a befitting main bowl to relish when their darling team returns to the new-look stadium.

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What Governor Seyi Makinde is currently doing at and with the stadium should serve as a spur for not just the 3SC and her teeming fans, but also all sports-loving people in Oyo State and elsewhere. This is because the renovation and remodelling of the complex is about sports in totality. In August 2020, Governor Seyi Makinde approved the renovation and remodelling the stadium.

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The aim was not just to give the 3SC a home ground befitting of its legendary status, it was also to bring it to FIFA standard so that the stadium can host top grade international matches. In the same vein, the remodeling is to put pristine facilities in place for other sports the complex was designed for. This means a near total redesigning of the stadium as well as the upgrade of sundry facilities at the entire complex. And Adamasingba isn’t about football alone; the 45-year-old facility, renamed Lekan Salami Sports Complex after an Ibadan philanthropist and sports enthusiast, Chief Lekan Salami, in 1988, is about sports in totality. Thus, the work on the stadium was to bring the hitherto dilapidated sports complex back to life and put it to the use of the sports-loving people of Oyo State.

The sports complex is now a heartwarming far cry from its sordid past. State of the art facilities are already in place at the main bowl, while work is ongoing at the other facilities in the complex. A list of the numerous new attractions at the stadium as well as the newly-installed facilities at the other departments of the sports complex justify the happiness and eagerness with which some sports players training at the stadium spoke.

While commending the work by the state government, they noted that the new facilities had renewed their enthusiasm and determination to work harder and earn laurels for Oyo State and Nigeria. For instance, the Lekan Salami Sports Complex now has completely new facilities such as a standard grass pitch, a departure from the artificial turf of the past. According to the Project Manager, Mr. Femi James, representing Peculiar Ultimate Concerns handling the project, the new tartan track around the pitch is the best obtainable in the market. Apart from beautifying the stadium, the new track also creates conducive training and competition arena for athletes just as it serves as a kind of foyer before the pitch.

For the first time since it was created also, the Lekan Salami Sports Complex now has a training pitch, which would also serve as a kind of community centre for the Ibadan people desirous of a befitting playing field. The training pitch is one of the requirements by the world football governing body for its approval of the stadium for international football engagements. Another innovation to the sports complex is the introduction of seats. Football fans would have comfortable seats to enjoy flawless football in a modern arena. The installation of the seats also brought the seating capacity of the stadium up to 10,000 from its original 8,000.

Aside from these physical innovations, there are also electronic scoreboards, video assistant referee (VAR) facilities and pitch-side monitors. The main bowl of the Lekan Salami has also been equipped with automated floodlights and sundry lighting for the security of life and property at the complex. Thus, live transmission of matches, the Head of Electricity and Electronics, Mr Benjamin Tobrise, said can be achieved with ease just as activities in four different stadia could be monitored live at the Lekan Salami Complex. In addition to all of these, the stadium can now boast of four new separate dressing rooms, each with its wet areas.

There are also match officials’ rooms, and the comfort of officials brings innovative separation of rooms for referees, match commissioners and referee assessors, each with their up-to-date conveniences. Then there is the mixed zone, also a new area for the teams’ and officials’ usual line up minutes before the kick-off of their match. Also introduced is a youth centre/ ball boys rooms. The studio is another innovation that stands the new-look Lekan Salami Sports Complex out. The studio, according to the James, is currently the best in the country. The studio, James explained “is one of the major requirements by FIFA.”

The state-of-the-art studio, he explained, contains automated gadgets which would serve as the one-stop control for the (also new) floodlights; the new electronic scoreboards and CCTV that would show what is happening at the stands and activities at five kilometres radius of the stadium. The new stadium now comes with a clinic, hospitality suites for VIPs and power house. The passageway, which was a waste area – so to say – in the stadium has been designed to serve as a Hall of Fame, where legends of the round leather game would be honoured and their memory preserved. A new centre court for tennis with sitting and wet areas, is also being built while the indoor sports hall is undergoing serious renovation.

A new Olympic size swimming pool is coming at the complex and a new multi-purpose hall called Composite Hall for boxing, wrestling, kick-boxing, weightlifting and powerlifting is also under construction. All at Adamasingba does not preclude the massive renovation of the second oldest stadium in Nigeria: the Olubadan Stadium. The pitch of this legendary arena is being re-grassed while the stands are receiving attention too.

Chairman of the Oyo State Sports Council, Mr Gboyega Makinde and Mr Gbenga Adewusi, the governor’s aide on sports are both elated. They see a bright future and look forward to a brighter future for Oyo State sports. Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, recently inspected the work going on at the complex and expressed satisfaction. Sports journalists, after a tour of the projects also expressed the hope that the new arenas would lift sports and sporting business in the state.

Governor Makinde said: “We want to be on the map internationally by hosting international sporting events, not just football. We have seen the centre courts for Tennis, Swimming Pool project and the facilities for volleyball, boxing, kickboxing and the rest.”

The governor promised to utilise sports to develop the economy of the state, saying: “So, we want to utilise sports to also develop our economy. We want to keep coming here every week by God’s grace to watch Shooting Stars play in the Premier League and to also play competitions in Africa. “We also want Shooting Stars to go on and play the World Club Cup competition, which I know is not beyond us.

“We have to bring development to our people, to our city and our state. That was why we were elected in the first place. “Some of those projects should be nearing completion right now. We wanted to check and be sure that, indeed, what we have on ground matches the report I have been getting. And I can tell you that I am quite impressed with the contractor.”

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